Why Each NFC South Team Won’t Win Super Bowl LVII

Why Each NFC South Team Won’t Win Super Bowl LVII

by April 9, 2022 1 comment

As free agency continues and the draft approaches, every team has some level of excitement. Some are looking to contend in 2022, while others only want to move in the right direction. The NFL is unique in that every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl each season. At the same time, only one team can lift the Lombardi next February in Super Bowl LVII. The other 31 will fall short, and there are reasons why each team will not have what it takes. Let’s continue with the NFC South.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While the Buccaneers brought back many pieces from their 2020 and 2021 teams, some cracks are beginning to show. Antonio Brown is still a free agent, but the odds of him returning to Tampa Bay are zero. Ali Marpet surprisingly retired (and did not come back as Tom Brady did). The Buccaneers also lost Jordan Whitehead in free agency. While these moves by themselves are not massive, Tampa Bay did not win the Super Bowl last season, and they lost some critical depth. Additions like Shaq Mason and Russell Gage will help bolster the ranks, but the defense has room to improve.

One obstacle standing in the way of the Buccaneers is the transition from Bruce Arians to Todd Bowles. While Bowles had some competent seasons with the New York Jets, his strength is the defensive side of the football. The offensive scheme will likely not change much, but Arians was a key influence, and his departure will hurt the offense. Byron Leftwich has a much more difficult job moving forward, and he will have to hit the ground running.

The Buccaneers will not win the Super Bowl because their roster has deteriorated from the unit that won Super Bowl LV and began the 2021 season on top of many power rankings. Even the pieces they retained will not be at full strength until deep into the season. Chris Godwin was sorely missed during the playoffs. He is still recovering from a torn ACL, and the offense is unlikely to be the same until 2023 as he recovers.

New Orleans Saints

Like the Buccaneers, the Saints are losing a genius offensive mind and replacing him with a retread defensive head coach. Sean Payton stepped away, and Dennis Allen is back as an NFL head coach. Unlike the Buccaneers, the Saints do not have an elite quarterback. Jameis Winston might be incredibly talented, but he makes too many mistakes to be a legitimate Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Beyond Winston, the offense has lost pieces from the last seasons of the Drew Brees era. Terron Armstead is off to greener pastures. Depth in the receiving corps and on the offensive line has disappeared. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas (who has not played in a year) are great, but they cannot carry the offense.

Defensively, the Saints are a sturdy unit, but they have to replace the loss of Marcus Williams. Marcus Maye is a good player, but he is coming off a torn Achilles. The Saints have a star on each level, but like the offense, depth is an issue. Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, and Marshon Lattimore are top-tier players, and they will once again play at a Pro Bowl level, but the rest of the defense is full of question marks. The Saints need to hit on their early draft picks, putting them in a prickly situation.

Atlanta Falcons

The key for some teams is that they should not even try to win Super Bowl LVII. This is not to say that they should not make moves, but teams such as the Falcons should look to the future and have different priorities than the Buccaneers and Saints. For the Falcons to have their best shot at a Super Bowl, they should try for a lottery ticket at quarterback. However, the odds of them connecting and winning a Super Bowl this season are astronomically low. Instead, they should punt their Super Bowl aspirations to 2023 and beyond and reconstruct the roster.

The Falcons have the makings for a decent offensive line, and they have the draft capital to take a couple of extra fliers for depth pieces. However, Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson are the only weapons worth mentioning. Marcus Mariota is far from the worst quarterback in the division, but he has a clear ceiling. The Falcons should prioritize picking up several receivers in this class as opposed to chasing the next quarterback.

AJ Terrell is a home run of a pick from the 2020 draft class, but the rest of the defense needs to improve before the Falcons can even sniff a championship. They could nab a blue-chip prospect with the No. 8 pick, or they could opt for the “spray and pray” method. Either way, the defense has a superstar piece (Terrell) and some other pieces with a pulse. If the likes of Richie Grant can improve in his second season, the Falcons will be in a much better situation.

Carolina Panthers

Similar to the Falcons, it is not in the Panthers’ best interest to go all-in for a Super Bowl this season. They have a full-blown disaster at the quarterback position, and it is not a one-year fix. The Panthers are a popular quarterback destination with the No. 6 pick, but the optimal path is to build up the rest of the roster as the quarterbacks wash out. It is far from a glamorous path, but it could enable the Panthers to stumble into a decent quarterback and be successful.

The Panthers should look at the models of the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers. Outside of quarterback, both of these teams have exceptional rosters. When the Panthers clean house from their triumvirate of horrendous quarterbacks and Matt Rhule, they should be a mediocre quarterback away from taking the NFC South. No one in the NFL stands to gain more from the permanent retirement of Brady than the Panthers. They need to position themselves to be competitive in 2023 or 2024, rather than 2022.

Even if the Panthers had swung a trade for Deshaun Watson, they would not have won the Super Bowl. However, this is a perfectly fine outcome. They maintained their compromised draft capital, and they should grab a handful of useful players in the upcoming draft. They should focus on finishing the offensive line and continuing to deepen the defense. The Panthers have their stars (including D.J. Moore, Brian Burns, and Jeremy Chinn), but the depth needs work.

Are you an optimist? All four of these teams have a chance to win the Lombardi.

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I’m Ryan Potts. Some people affectionately call me Splash. I am renowned for being a misplaced Ravens, Cavs, Wings & Braves fan. Twitter: MrSplashMan19

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